The Symbols

In the 60’s I was a regular visitor to a pub called ‘De Hems’ in Macclesfield Street off Shaftsbury Avenue. I used to meet up with two of my best friends in the music business, Bert Wilcox together with his brother who used to run the famous 100 Club in Oxford Street and Peter Jones who at the time was editor of Record Mirror. It was in this pub that Peter conducted many of his famous interviews with stars of the music business. Peter later became European Editor of American Billboard Magazine. He also wrote many articles on The Symbols. I also went along with Peter bringing along my camera to many receptions where we met artists such as Harry Nilsson, Chris Montez and Dave Clarke. Several of my photographs were published by Record Mirror.

In 1961 ‘The Condors’ featured in a Pathe News Film backing singer Ray Anton at the ‘59’ Club in Hackney.

In 1963 ‘The Condors’ appeared as themselves in a colour movie called ‘Money Sings’. This film was seen at many cinemas throughout the country. ‘The Condors’ featured throughout the film backing actor/singer Johnny Carson, cousin of Sir Cliff Richard (not to be confused with Johnny Carson the American talk show host). The personnel featured in this film were Clive Graham on drums, Mervin Greenaway guitar, Ricky Smith guitar and Paul Servis bass guitar. They were credited in the main titles alongside the other actors in the film.


In 1964 the Group travelled to Hamburg to perform at the famous Star Club for 6 weeks, sometimes playing up to 5 one hour sessions per night. The ‘Swinging Blue Jeans’, ‘Johnny Kidd’, ‘Tommy Roe’ and ex Beatles ‘Tony Sheridan’ were some of the other artistes performing there at the time.

On our journey to Hamburg the Dutch police warned us that if the German police found out that we did not have visas we could be in trouble. On the train journey through Germany the train stopped at Innsbruck and when the police boarded the train they found out that we didn’t have visas. We were arrested and I was interrogated for 2 hours. This was quite traumatic but eventually a representative of the ‘Star Club’ in Hamburg said they had our visas and we were allowed to continue our journey. On arrival at the Star Club my suitcase was stolen which contained everything I owned. For two days I had nothing else to wear. I went to the seaman’s mission on the waterfront to purchase cheap items. However, the owner of the Star Club put the word around and my case was returned in tact.

After returning from Hamburg the Group had become more R‘n’B influenced. Mervin Greenaway was soon to leave the Group and they continued as a four piece outfit working for the Roy Tempest Organisation. The Group worked constantly in the UK on US Air Force bases and quickly established themselves as an accomplished backing band for other artists, including Vince Eager, Duffy Powel, Vernon’s Girls, Geno Washington, Gary Mills, Craig Douglas, Ricky Valance, Paul Gadd (Gary Glitter), Dicky Pride, Danny Williams and many others. During this period friend, Bob Powis, had become enthusiastically involved in helping the Group as Road Manager and continued to do so for many years until he joined the army. A very popular venue was the California Ballroom, Dunstable. www.California ballroom dunstable/johnnymilton

During a break from gigs with ‘The Condors’, I joined ‘Wee Willie Harris’, with Pete Oakman on bass, as the group’s regular drummer Tony Crombie was taking a break to work with John Barry on a movie score. This was a 4 week tour of US Air Force bases around the UK.

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